Russian Indigenous Group Visits Navajo Technical University to Explore Possible Foreign Exchange Program for Students

Graduate student Sharon Nelson shows the different cooking utentils and how they are used to prepare food at the Hooghan on the NTU Main Campus in Crownpoint, New Mexico.

Published May 1, 2019

CROWNPOINT, N.M. — Navajo Technical University’s Diné Studies program invited members of the Yakut indigenous group from Russia to learn about Navajo culture and to explore the possibilities of a foreign student exchange program.  The group of Yakut visitors were; Mikhail Mikhailovich Ershov, Villiam Yakovlev, Temirei Sutakov, and Maria Kouner who were accompanied by translator Gordon Bronitski. The group toured NTU’s campus and provided presentations on cultural activities and demonstrations. During the visit, the group gifted NTU President Dr. Elmer J. Guy and students with a cultural Yakut drum made of horse hide decorated with ribbons.

“They have been to the Navajo Nation before and we are pleased to have them come to Navajo Tech to learn more about how we can forge a partnership with them for our students,” said NTU President Dr. Elmer J. Guy. “These types of foreign interactions present a unique opportunity for our students to learn about cultures from other countries and to create a pathway for more of these types of partnerships.”

The Yakut visitors were welcomed to Navajo Technical University’s campus with a tour of its various departments and Navajo cultural knowledge presentations were offered by graduate students at the Diné Studies Hooghan. Diné Cultural, Language, and Leadership major Sharon Nelson described the assorted utensils used to prepare traditional foods, while dual major Wallace Dale discussed the Navajo calendar. Adjunct Weaving Instructor Bonnie Yazzie also gave a brief story about the warrior twins and discussed the importance of Navajo traditional weaving.

Navajo Technical University’s Diné Studies students and university officials pose with the Yakut group after a gift exchange. NTU President Dr. Elmer J. Guy presented the group with a traditional Navajo wedding basket.

The university will began exploring opportunities toward a partnership that will allow students to visit and learn in Russia, while Yakut students will attend NTU. After gifting the group a traditional Navajo basket, President Guy welcomed the group for another visit to the university in order to continue discussions on a student exchange program.

“A partnership with NTU will be beneficial for everyone and it will give the Navajo people a voice at the United Nations in our quest to save the earth as indigenous people from across the world,” said Temirei Sutakov, Yakut and Sakha traditional and contemporary artist.

To learn more about the visit and the Diné Studies program at Navajo Technical University visit or contact Dr. Wesley Thomas at

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